During this year alone, over 78,000 women will be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer, which is the fourth largest cancer killer of women in the United States. Physicians across the country aim to educate women about detection and prevention tools that can help save lives through four steps:
- Get to know your family history: It is important for women to learn about their maternal and paternal family histories of cancer, including breast, ovarian, uterine, colon and prostate cancers. Since the genetic risk for ovarian cancer can be transmitted though either the mother or father, understanding general cancer risk is equally important as understanding a genetic history of just one disease. Alert your gynecologist about your family history of cancer so you can discuss preventive steps.
- Conduct an online risk assessment: Take 15 minutes out of your day to determine your risk for developing gynecologic cancers and breast cancer by visiting the Women’s Cancer Network’s website at www.wcn.org. This information site provides a free, personalized risk assessment for developing gynecologic and breast cancers and also contains comprehensive information about many female cancers. Additionally, the site provides resources for women who have been diagnosed with cancer and contains information about gynecologic oncologists — experts who specialize in treatment of cancers of the reproductive organs.
- Ask questions and educate yourself about gynecologic cancers: Know more about gynecologic cancers by learning the warning signs of reproductive cancers. Take active steps to be screened, and learn about prevention and health issues.
- Make an appointment for your annual gynecologic exam and be screened: Some of the most common gynecologic cancers have no symptoms and can only be detected by regular visits to your gynecologist. According to Maria Bell, MD, a Gynecologic Oncologist at Sanford Clinic Women’s Health, a regular gynecologic healthcare routine is critical to maintaining good health. “Women are the caretakers of their family, but often neglect their own health. In order to be the best wife, mother, or daughter you need to be healthy. Get regular check ups and discuss cancer screening guidelines with your physician,” Bell advises.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Sanford Clinic Women’s Health at (605) 328-7700.